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How large is your radio market both in terms of number of radio stations (public and private) and overall advertising revenue (in USD)?
We have 32 public radio stations and 35 private radio stations. In terms of overall advertising revenue of radio in Malaysia, the estimation for the FY2021 is around US$45-to $50-million. This will probably reflect the prolonged lockdown that caused a huge decline compared to FY2020, which was around $70 million.
Is your radio market growing in terms of new players in radio or audio starting up in 2021?
Podcasts are growing, and radio programming is starting to focus on producing new podcasts by repurposing their shows to be on podcast as catchup.
Social audio such as Clubhouse, Twitter Spaces and Facebook’s Live Audio Rooms are the new players in 2021.
Has your radio audience grown over the COVID pandemic, and how does it look now?
Yes. In fact, it seems COVID had no impact on radio. The latest Radio Audience Measurement Wave 1 2021 by GfK (May 2021), reaffirms that radio, at 94% reach, is one of the most effective mediums to reach almost the whole population of Peninsular Malaysia!
How has radio advertising revenue performed over the same period?
That’s a different story — there’s been a huge decline, and not only for radio. In fact, the whole media industry is seeing a decline of revenue due to the prolonged lockdown that affected the overall economy.
What is the most important new opportunity that radio stations in your market are pursuing in terms of investment in capital and human resources?
Radio is an enormously flexible medium, allowing listeners to tune in anytime, anywhere, from a range of devices and platforms such as radio apps on smartphones. Therefore, apps and digital platforms will be the next focus. So, every radio business will need a team to manage technology and its implementation, and support content generation and marketing for such platforms.
What seem to be the most challenging technological, programming, strategic and/or sales goals among radio owners in your market?
In terms of strategy, programming and sales:
- To engage media planners or agencies to include digital audio inventory into their marketing plans.
- To prove the effectiveness of radio ads.
- To eliminate or eradicate aggregators to prevent digital listenership leakages.
In terms of technology:
- To get Malaysia radio stations on to smart speakers.
- Limited frequency and transmission reach — to approach the service provider for frequency replanning or explore 5G technology for radio broadcasting.
- To get further discount on the transmission cost from service providers.
How advanced is your market in terms of the transition of FM radio operators into audio streaming, audio on demand and digital radio such as DAB or DRM?
We have already passed the DAB or DRM implementation opportunity. Smartphone apps are replacing digital radio. For any noteworthy uptake of DAB or DRM, the cost for listeners would need to come down significantly, especially to update or retrofit older cars with receivers. Having said that, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto or Bluetooth are already an option in most car radios and speakers at home.
In fact, if consumers were to choose between a radio set or a smartphone, they will go for the smartphone. With respect to data consumption on smartphones, like the radios in the Malaysian media entertainment group Media Prima Berhad has partnered with the top telcos to provide zero data cost while listening to Media Prima Radio or its smartphone app named AUDIO+. Therefore, listeners do not need to worry about the data cost.
In fact, low bandwidth consumption of listening to a high quality audio via radio app, for one hour listening, is less than the activity of scrolling the social media app for 10 minutes.
Audio on demand is emotionless. Advertisers will not get the best results of their campaigns.
What regulatory body oversees radio in your country?
Are there other noteworthy radio industry organizations in your country? If so, who are they?
As far as I know, there are no other radio industry organizations except for the independent internet radios.
Commercial Radio Malaysia 20/21
General Manager, Tech & Shared Services of Media Prima Audio